In Albania we eat lots of vegetables, meat, fish, and sea fruits with different sauces. Usually the dish is placed at the center of the table and everybody will help themselves, like in other Mediterranean countries. Depending on the region that you will be visiting you will try different dish, made from different veggies. We love the homemade byrek of the south, the sophisticated gastronomy of south east, Italian influence of the middle Albania cooking, fine fish along the seaside and last but not least the divine meat of the North.
Eating out at restaurants
In some restaurants you may not find everything that is written on the menu, but in these cases the waiter will help you with your order. In Albania the tip or “bakshish”, as we call it, is very frequent. Usually it’s about 10% of the total bill, but it’s not obligatory. It’s up to you whether you want to tip the waiter or not.
You can’t miss this Albanian delights:
Koran – a very special kind of fish which is unique because it is only found in the Ohrid Lake (Tushemisht or Pogradec). Its taste is very special and you can find it baked or grilled.
The Carp or “krap” in Albanian is a specialty of the city of Shkodra. This fish is a bit difficult to eat because of its bones, but it’s definitely worth it.
The tripes are a very common dish, which you can find in every restaurant.
Don’t hesitate to ask about the specialties of the region. You will be completely satisfied.
During your trip, you may find merchants who sell by the side of the streets. Their products are 100% natural. It is definitely a good idea to buy these local products.
And what do we drink in Albania ?
We drink raki. It is pronounced the same in all the Balkan. Some drink it in the morning with the coffee, others while eating and some others drink it after their meal as a digestive. Different regions produce different kind of this drink, but the alcohol percentage is always quite high, so it’s not advised to drink raki if you are driving a car. Raki is produced from the grape, plum, from nuts in some regions and “mana” (white mallberry).
Vineyards in Albania started to develop from the 7th century BC, based on local varieties of grape that had resisted the Ice Age era. Illyrian wines were famous under the Roman Empire and did not lose their reputation until the ottoman invasion. Nowadays, the local wineries are in the midst of being reborn and welcome travelers to taste wine and share their family history with them.
Concerning the beer, there are three main Albanian beers that are very common to find. They are named after the region where they are produced: Tirana, Korça, Elbar and Peja (produced in Kosovo).
Water: it’s better to avoid drinking tap water, especially in big cities. This doesn’t mean that the water has a bad quality because this is water taken directly from the natural springs but the network which distributes this water is quite old and can’t provide 100% safe and drinkable water.
You can drink fresh water from the springs in the mountains during your journey.